New at-home COVID-19 test can produce results in 15 minutes

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A new COVID-19 test that can produce results in 15 minutes with the help of a smartphone app could become the first test that can be performed at home without involving a laboratory.

Biotech company Cellex partnered with Gauss, a computer vision startup, to develop the rapid-response test which uses artificial intelligence to provide the results, Axios reported.

The antigen test involves taking a nasal swab to both nostrils then placing it in a small vial filled with a buffer solution. Four droplets are then taken from the vial and placed on a test cassette.

Lines will develop with varying degrees of intensity depending on how much — if any — of the virus is present in the sample, similar to a pregnancy test.

The test is then scanned with a smartphone through an app, which will use AI to inform users if they tested positive or negative — all within 15 minutes, Axios explained.

“By embedding advanced computer vision algorithms within a thoughtfully-designed user experience, we can enable consumers to perform a rapid test in their own homes just as well as a trained operator or a laboratory instrument — simply by using their smartphone cameras,” Gauss CEO Siddarth Satish said in a statement.

If the FDA approves the diagnostic, it would be the first COVID-19 test that can be done to completion at home.

Cellex CEO James Li said the test has 90 percent sensitivity and nearly 100 percent specificity.

Test sensitivity is the ability to correctly identify positive cases and test specificity is the ability to correctly identify negative cases — meaning the rapid-test is not always 100 percent accurate in detecting those with COVID-19 but is almost always accurate in determining when a person is not infected.

“What is important for COVID-19 pandemic management is that this is a tool that will allow people to self-monitor and self-isolate,” he told Axios.

The test is expected to be submitted to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization later this year.